Unless you’ve been living in a cave in a remote desert you are probably aware that we are now in the midst of the second golden age of cocktails here in America. I came of age in the 1970s at a time when bartending skills were at an ebb; when most bartenders had just about enough skill to put rum and coke in the same glass, martinis were considered highly exotic and were prepared with second rate gin and the third rate vermouth available at the time, and when a Long Island Iced Tea was the drink of choice by my college friends. But oh how things changed starting in the early 2000s, with fresh infusions and syrups, high quality spirits, an ever increasing range of options for vermouths, bitters, and aperitifs, and a new cocktail culture that emphasized freshness and originality while paying homage to the classics. And Julie Reiner was as responsible for that risorgimento as anyone.
This is a beautiful book with plenty of photographs, lots of recipes, and a great resource for the home cocktail maker. Most of all, it is inspiring. It really doesn’t require a lot of effort to make an infusion or a syrup, or to use fresh instead of bottled juice, and Reiner offers plenty of specific instruction on how to do it properly. Stocking the bar is a whole other question, of course: that can become very expensive. Reiner doesn’t really offer any help on that score, but she does go to lengths to say which specific spirits she likes best in each category of drink, so that’s a help.
The book is remarkably inexpensive (list $26 and currently available for less that $19 at Amazon), and a great addition to any cocktail library. Though I haven’t read the Kindle edition, I cannot imagine that it is anything like the hardcover. Spend the extra $6 and get the real deal.